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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Students reflect on COVID’s impacts four years later

Students+reflect+on+COVID%E2%80%99s+impacts+four+years+later
Caroline Reilly

This March marks four years since the beginning of COVID and the transition of many schools  to online learning. The graduating class of 2024 is the last class to have endured the pandemic during high school, as they started JR fully online. Many seniors, reflecting on their virtual freshman year, have acknowledged the substantial growth and challenges during that period for students and teachers.

Senior Finn Ficher stated that “while [he] understand[s] the necessity of going online for freshman year, it definitely felt like we lost a year of education as the grading policy was very forgiving and there was a lack of participation.” 

During the 2020-2021 school year, students were allowed to retake tests up to 100% at any point during the term it was assigned, and cameras weren’t officially required to be turned on—except for a singular time during class to be marked present. 

While the grading policy was more flexible, learning completely online still presented challenges. Senior Chyna Holloway said, “[her] grades weren’t the greatest and it was harder for [her] to understand complex topics in math and science classes.” Although Holloway appreciates completing assignments on Canvas, she prefers in-person instructional learning. The current grading policy is more harsh than during the pandemic, as students are still allowed to retake tests, but only up to a B (86%). 

For many, navigating social interactions while practicing social distancing and being out of school posed significant adversity. “We didn’t get a chance to make relationships with our classmates,” senior Wengyin Ho commented. “It definitely showed when we came back sophomore year and classes would be dead silent because people wouldn’t talk to each other.” 

As for teachers, the transition to the virtual-driven world has evoked a mixed range of experiences. 

English teacher Jenna Postler observed that currently “attention has been at an all-time low,” as screens provide an easy distraction. Other teachers noted students rely too much on the Internet for easy information.  

“All of our students, regardless of the pandemic, are pretty good critical thinkers, but what the pandemic has done is hindered the ability of students to recall important facts,’ said history teacher Robert Geremia.

However, some consequences of the pandemic have been beneficial for students. COVID “accelerated the push for DCPS to provide laptops to all students,” Postler stated. Especially as AP exams are moving online, computers facilitate a strong learning environment “as most students will most likely have to use technology in college and future jobs.” On the other hand, “students going into medical school [or] law school, even being able to study basic concepts required for some of the college 101s are going to have trouble,” as students will be expected to remember key information and won’t be able to easily look up answers, Geremia explained. 

With new classes that have not had COVID-19 interrupt their high school learning, it is important to ensure that the transition to learning via computers is made easy for students. 

Geremia emphasized that “DCPS has to formalize a few skills for [students] to learn so that they are proficient at digital media and digital use,” which can include things like typing skills and media literacy. The consensus from teachers was that fostering the social and academic well-being of students even post-pandemic is paramount.

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Nicole Dickinson
Nicole Dickinson, Written Content Editor
Caroline Reilly, Junior Editor
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